When you are a relationship expert, it seems there is no escaping love lessons. Whether I go to a playground, the circus, the grocery store, or the laundromat, I'm always picking up jewels of relationship wisdom. But my visit to the San Diego Zoo this weekend may have trumped them all. Every stop along the way served up some sort of lesson in love. By studying the simplicity of our furry, feathered and scaly friends, I noticed how our complicated lives unnecessarily complicate our love lives. The animals at the zoo just get it. They have such an unpolluted way of taking care of themselves and of each other. Of course they don't have jobs, dreams, taxes to pay and a zillion other things that can distract them from focusing on what really matters, but even still I think it is worthwhile, to stop and observe the methods of a few favorite animals and see what learnings you can extract and apply to your own ways of love. To get you started, here are a few things that my favorite animals taught me about pure and primal love this weekend:
Orangutans prioritize play.
These red-haired, spaghetti-armed primates live to be silly. Constantly swinging from ropes, flipping over branches, playing peek a boo and tugging on each other’s beards just to crack a smile out of one other, these guys are always looking for a reason to have fun.
Love lesson learned: Relationships need a good dose of teasing, taunting and a lot of fun!
Ducks believe in loyalty.
One of the few monogamous creatures in the animal kingdom, family first is the motto of the duck. Whether on land or in water, ducks always stick together and appear to be harmonious while doing so. They wait for each other when one is slower, always looking out for each other's best interest.
Love lesson learned: Commitment is simply a decision to go the distance with your chosen one, no matter what.
Pandas snuggle for snuggle’s sake.
Of all the animals at the zoo, the pandas get the most oohs and aahs because they are the cuddliest. Constantly snuggling with each other, and not just at the baby stage, they appear to need the warmth offered when close to one another. That warmth projects outwards and can be felt between sets of bears.
Love lesson learned: Snuggling does the body and spirit good.
Monkeys appreciate sex!
The monkeys were in high heat this weekend, getting busy for their passerbys. No quarters needed for these cage shows either as these furry creatures were all about exhibitionist displays of love. Furthermore, they did not shy away from experimental positioning or dominant and submissive role sharing.
Love lesson learned: Free and frequent sex is a must!
Gorillas meditate daily.
During my ten-minute visit to the gorilla exhibit, the grown-ups were all in yoga-like poses, deeply meditating on who knows what. Perfectly peaceful, these amazing creatures were unfazed by the crowds and each other… until the two little ones came to flip over their ‘do not disturb’ signs, at which point the adults happily engaged with their children, seemingly recharged.
Love lesson learned: Members of a relationship need to be internally balanced and properly rejuvenated to be the best partner they can be.
Polar Bears place value on patience.
My visit included multiple feeding times and the polar bears (the most revered exhibit at this zoo) were inarguably the most patient . They waited calmly for their zookeeper and were kind upon being fed, taking each scrap delicately and appreciatively.
Love lesson learned: Good things are worth waiting for.
Giraffes are unselfish.
I watched a mama giraffe in all of her long-legged glory pass down leaves to her little-legged baby. On two instances she went to feed herself but her baby nudged at her wanting to be fed so she handed her, her leaves. The baby then nuzzled with the mama giraffe in appreciation.
Love lesson learned: When you truly someone, giving is oftentimes more of a gift than receiving.
Peacocks are honorable.
The peacocks at this zoo roam free and often in pairs. When a security vehicle turned a corner, the male peacock reactively fanned its beautiful feathers in all of their glory, protecting the female and announcing to the driver to stop until its lady could pass. An absolutely honorable and chivalrous display that melted my heart!
Love lesson learned: A lady should expect to be treated like a lady.
Hyenas understand forgiveness.
When food was tossed in the hyena pit, the two cats aggressively went after it – only one prevailed, leaving the other hungry and angry. Seconds later though the winner approached the loser, nuzzled noses in a seemingly ‘forgive and forget’ gesture and the two were friendly again, strolling the pit side by side.
Love lesson learned: Life is too short to hold grudges.
Birds offer space.
Among the great variety of birds I saw at the zoo, one commonality was that they gave each other needed space. They would visit on a common branch, communicate and then one would flee for alone time. The cycle would then repeat all over again.
Love lesson learned: Healthy relationships need time together and breathing room.
When the animals seem to have it all right, sort of makes you rethink the term "dating jungle"... perhaps we make it more complicated than it needs to be...